Missouri lawmakers expect a special session next week to renew massive Medicaid tax

JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri – Missouri lawmakers could return to the capital as early as Monday to renew a large tax that funds the state’s Medicaid program after members were unable to reach a compromise before retiring from the session ordinary of the legislature.

Gov. Mike Parson said he still plans to make budget cuts if there is no solution by July 1 to adopt a new Federal Reimbursement Allowance (FRA) program.

“We’re going to have to move on because I can’t delay it any longer,” Parson told reporters on Tuesday. “On July 1 there will be deductions, there is no other option for us.”

FRA is a tax collected from medical providers like hospitals to support Medicaid. The chairman of the House Budget Committee, Representative Cody Smith (R-Carthage), said the tax brought in $ 1.6 billion a year.

“For about every dollar of ARF that we get, we get about two federal dollars for it, and then we take all that money and we put it into our Medicaid program,” Smith said.

The delay for the General Assembly is whether abortion providers and their affiliates and some contraceptives like Plan B should be covered for women who are already on Medicaid. What is at stake are billions of dollars for the state program.

“The Missouri State Republican Party has shown no abandonment of women’s reproductive rights,” said Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo (D-Independence). “They are trying to confuse abortion and birth control and the two things are not the same.”

Since lawmakers did not do so before adjourning, they must return for a special session since the FRA expires on September 30.

“I’m optimistic we’ll be able to come to a compromise on a plan that allows us to go through legislation fairly quickly and get it to the governor’s office by the end of the month,” Smith said.

Lawmakers have said the problem with finding a compromise is whether or not to allow Medicaid to cover contraceptives. In the last week of the session, Senator Paul Wieland (R-Imperial) attached an amendment to Senate Bill 1 that bans the use of FRA funds for contraceptives and abortions.

“You are literally putting $ 4 billion in flows that are used to provide healthcare to Missourians on contraception, on birth control,” Rizzo said.

Republican senators met with Parson on Tuesday afternoon to try to find a compromise to renew the ARF. Part of the new wording in the bill reads:

Family planning as defined by federal rules and regulations; provided that such family planning services do not include abortions or any drugs or abortive devices unless such abortions are certified in writing by a physician to the MO HealthNet agency that, in the physician’s professional judgment, the life of the the mother would be in danger if the fetus were carried to term.

He goes on to say that an “abortion drug or device” includes plan B and intrauterine devices (IUDs).

“We have a super pro-life majority on the Republican side and a lot of our members care about these issues,” Smith said.

Missouri has used the FRA for more than 20 years to fund the state’s Medicaid program. Parson said if it wasn’t renewed it would be a more than $ 1 billion hole in the budget.

“If we can stay within the guidelines, if we can have language that does not compromise the FRA and does not compromise our CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services], then we’d be willing to take a look at something like that, ”Parson said.

Rizzo said he hoped the governor “reduced” the call for the special session so lawmakers could pass a “clean FRA.”

“I think there are still a lot of fence repairs that need to happen that hasn’t happened yet, I also think we’re adults, and we understand that this is something that could be a disaster. for the state of Missouri if we don’t. don’t do it, ”Rizzo said.

He believes lawmakers will be back on Capitol Hill from Monday to start working on an ARF renewal plan. Rizzo said the legislation will start in the Senate and then move through the House.

Parson’s office has not confirmed when lawmakers will return to Jefferson City.

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